A Veteran Died Today

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Joe has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Veteran died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?

Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:


U.S. Army Artifacts


Typhoon “Hester”

A Story of a flight of 16 AF’s (VS-21) from Guam to Iwo Jima in December of 1952, to escape Typhoon “Hester”.

Before the carrier based anti-submarine fixed wind S2 and S3, there was the AF. The AF came in 2 versions – One, a Guppy (AF2W) with APS 20 Radar for extended search and the other team player was the AF2S, with the attack APS 31 Radar, a powerful search light, depth charges and other weapons to attack possible enemy subs. This a/c was powered by a Pratt/Whitney R-2800 and reported as the largest single engine propeller plane ever built. This was always in contention because of the short lived AM (an attack plane with a 4360 engine), a crew of 4 in the Guppy and 3 in the AF2S to do what a crew of 4 would do better, in later years, with the S2 and follow on S3.

VS-21 made a 7 month WestPac cruise from Oct 24, ’52 through May 26, ’53 with a total of 18 AF type a/c and a copliment of 260 people. The CO, XO, OPS and Maint Officer flew to Guam on the USN Seaplane “Mars“, the rest of us, and the aircraft, were embarked in the USS Cape Esperance (CVET-88), a former CVE assigned to the “Military Sea Transport Service” (MSTS). We spent 3 months operating from Guam and 4 months operating from the USS Bairoko (CVE-115), we were relieved in Japan by the USMC F4U Checkerboard Squadron. We then loaded aboard the USS Bataan (CVLa-29) and returned to NAS North Island, San Diego, CA.

The Evacuation: On the dark night of Dec 29, ’52, 16 AFs departed Guam (Mariannas Islands) about 2000 hrs for Iwo Jima to the NW (an island in the center of 2 others in the volcano chain). This flight consisted of 4 divisions(4 a/c ea div) navigating with the AF2W APS 20 Radar as the skipper (CDR Calvin T. Durgin, Jr) led the flight. The 2nd division of 4 was led by the XO (LCDR Kenneth D. Oberholser), the 3rd division leader was LT Samuel A. Sparks, the Maintenance Officer, and the 4th div was led by Lt Robert B. Wightman, our Safety Officer. I was a LT at the time and flew slot position in Sam’s flight.

Weather was bad underneath but we were on top with a moon at 8000 ft. Guam toIwo is a distanceof about 930 nautical miles. Japan lies 600 miles N of Iwo. Upon arrival over Iwo Jima, weather was estimated to be a 400 ft ceiling & 2 mile visibility. The top of the clouds/overcast, however, as we could estimate was down to4000 ft, so the entire flight descended from 8000 to 4000 ft as we orbited Iwo.

There was no documented instrument approach procedure, no operational control tower (we talked to the USAF 1st LT on a VHF Flt Advisory Channel) and no approach lights for the single 7000 ft EW runway. The lights marking each side of the runway, although quite dim were nonetheless adequate. No landing lights on tail-wheel carrier planes so the approach was similar to a carrier approach, but without the LSO. He was one of our pilots on this flight. Three divisions orbited in a delta pattern as the skipper took his division of 4 thru the decent (let down) on a heading of 270 degrees, breaking out of the overcast at about 450 ft then reversed course, put his group in a right echelon, made the break over RW-9 and landed as each pilot established a 45 second interval … with no taxiway lights, the pistol grop spot lite carried, as standard equipment, in the cockpit was used to find our way as we taxied in, find a parking spot and shut down.

When the skipper, with his division arrived over the runway for the break he called the 2nd division to start their descent in the same fashion. This adoped approach went on until the 3rd & 4th divisions had landed. All 16 planes landed and shut down without a hitch. Time was slightly after mid-nite and could beer time compliments of a 12 man Air Force Station Keeper Crew. A 1st LT USAF was in charge of the detachment.

Note #1 – A flash back – One of the fiercest battles of WWII took place here from Nov of ’44 until Mar of ’45. I had two Marine Cousins in this battle and both survived, but now deceased. The 2.5 by 5.5 mile island had been honeycombed by the Japanese, over the yrs prior to WWII and the Command Post, Hospital, Airplane Maintenance and Hangars wer all under ground and could not be discerned by the Intelligence gathering groups.

Note #2 – We totaled 16 pilots with 40 enlisted crew members and spent the 30th & New Year’s eve there. Some had bunks, some slept on tables and a few slept on the deck of the Operation/Crew Quarters/Mess Hall building of about 3500 sqft. Our Maintenance crew in this squadron, under LET Sam Sparks, was highly efficient. We returned to Guam on New Years Day in beautiful CAVU weather. No aircraft engine problems going or returning.

Note #3 – To my knowledge there are only 2 pilots still living that took part in this flight. Paul Sengir, a retired United Airline Captain, who lives in CA, and yours truly. As for me, I plan to live on until I die … YEAH!

Note #4 – There is an AF2S in the Naval Air Museum with VS-25 markings on it. VS-25 was a sister squadron to VS-21 and in the next NORIS Hangar. VADM Jim Stockdale, now deceased and a long time POW of the N Vietnamese, was a LT in VS-25, as I recall, before going to Attack Squadrons in the A4s.

Note #5 – Usually in an-all-out effort to evacuate a mass flight of a/c from the onslaught of a Hurricane or a Typhoon, very little if any damage is ever incurred on the evacuated base. Just double secure put them in a hangar & batten down is safer than evacuation flights. I was also involved in an Evac one time form HAS North Island in San Diego – probably the only evac from that base – ever. On that evacuation flight, 2 planes were lost and 1 pilot was killed – the base was not damaged.

CAPT Floyd H. Brown, USN (Ret)



As Paul Harvey used to say …”Here’s the rest of the story“.

If you were in the market for a watch in 1886, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States , that’s where the best watches were found.

Why were the best watches found at the train station?

The railroad company wasn’t selling the watches, not at all. The telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.

Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches.

As a matter of fact, they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.

This was all arranged by “Richard”, who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from Chicago. It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.

cid: 05699718FDDE40B08740D0DD8E67063C @ EarlPC

 So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn’t want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.

That started it all. He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! It didn’t take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah. And the rest is history as they say.

The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods.

Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago — and it’s still there.

YES, IT’S A LITTLE KNOWN FACT that for a while in the 1880’s, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck!

cid: 2A44A0F4FF264EDEB08FA8EBBCBFCF2E @ EarlPC

 Bet You Didn’t Know That!!!


Veterans/Seniors Assistance

The Federal Government provides many Consumer Pamphlets that can assist Veterans and Senior Citizens to help with many situations that may be facing. Order the “2014 Consumer Action Handbook” >

A NEW 2014 Consumer Action Handbook is available that can help with consumer purchases, problems and complaints. Find consumer contacts at hundreds of companies and government agencies, and more. Also, there is a Publications Catalog available where hundreds of free and low-cost booklets on money, health, jobs, housing and more. Order the “Consumer Information Catalog” >

Samples …


Golden Eagle/Age/Access Passports

A Federal Recreation Fee Program

Go to: http://web2.ncentral.com/treasurer/golden_eagle_passport.htm


The Consumer Action Handbook

Get tips on topics from banking, wills, preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, and more.

Go to: http://www.usa.gov/topics/consumer.shtml


Death Benefits for Survivors of Deceased Veterans

Go to: http://www.va.gov/explore/dependents-and-survivors.asp?gclid=CNDS8vDN6LwCFSXl7AodiBYAoA


Consumer Guide to the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule

 Go to: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule

Eiffel Tower … He’s Gone West

FW: Do you remember this? – Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2014 14:21:25 -0700

Remember the fighter pilot who flew through the Eiffel Tower… He’s Gone West…

In the spring of 1944 Bill and his P-51C, the ‘Berlin Express’ were near Paris when the scene that is immortalized in the artwork by Len Krenzler of Action Art that leads this article took place. Bill had followed this Bf109 from the bombers he was escorting when most of the German fighters left. The two planes had been in a running dogfight. The German pilot flew over Paris hoping that the heavy German anti-aircraft artillery would solve his problem and eliminate Overstreet and the ‘Berlin Express’, though Bill managed to get some hits in at about 1500 feet. The German’s engine was hit, and Bill stayed on his tail braving the intense enemy flak. His desperation undoubtedly growing, the German pilot aimed his plane at the Eiffel Tower and in a surprising maneuver, flew beneath it. Undeterred, Bill followed right behind him, scoring several more hits in the process. The German plane crashed and Bill escaped the heavy flak around Paris by flying low and full throttle over the river until he had cleared the cities heavy anti-aircraft batteries.

William ‘Bill’ Overstreet, Jr., a former Captain in the U.S. Air Corps, passed away recently at a hospital in Roanoke, VA.

He famously flew his plane beneath the Eiffel Tower in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, lifting the spirits of French troops on the ground

In 2009, he was presented France’s Legion of Honor

William Overstreet Jr. died recently at a hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, at age 92 – according to his obituary, but there was no indication of the cause of his death.

Before the ceremony, Overstreet had previously said that, if he lived long enough to receive the Legion of Honor, he would be accepting it in memory of his fallen brothers.

In particular, he wanted to pay tribute to a friend, Eddy Simpson, who died fighting the Nazis on the ground so his comrades, including Overstreet, could escape.

After the award was pinned to his lapel, Overstreet said: ‘If I said, “Thank you,” it wouldn’t be enough,’ before adding: ‘What more than “thank you” do you need?’

He was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 1921 and after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Air Corps as a fighter pilot.  By February 1942, he was a private and sent to California for flight training; here, his instructors prepared him for the unexpected mid-flight by cutting the engine as he landed.

Remembered: Overstreet was presented with France’s Legion of Honour in 2009

He was always humble. Whenever the press interviewed him he said, ” I didn’t do anything … we were a team.”


Carrier Operations

This is truly history in the making. The aircraft being launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier is a UAV. The Navy has been developing this aircraft for almost 15 years,and now it is here. Pilotless and controlled by people on the ship. Amazing. The “pilots” are the guys on the deck with the flight controls strapped to their arms

 Go to     www.youtube.com/embed/WC8U5_4lo2c?feature=player_embedded

Entertaining Royalty on the Randolph

” The USS Randolph put on an air show for the King and Queen of Greece, and it wasn’t the sort of thing that pilots extend themselves beyond the range of their capabilities to do, but simply the work of the ship’s squadrons in their everyday missions.

For this demonstration we towed a sled 150 yards astern which was to be the target for the jets to attack with their rockets. The feature attraction was to be a finale where two AD 6s from VA-176 would dive-bomb the sled to extinction. They boast they can carry externally the bomb load a B17 carries internally (4800 lbs). They both had a 5000 lb bomb on the center station and 1000 pounders on each wing.

It was a warm day with no wind at all. Airplanes don’t lift so well when it is hot and humid, and the carrier had to make all the wind there was by steaming at 33 knots. They catapulted all the jets and then started the 2 ADs from all the way aft. CAG flew the first one and barely made it off the box. He sunk out of sight and came staggering up into view again shouting – “Don’t launch him, Don’t launch him”, into his mike, but LTJG George Ormond was on his way, and couldn’t hear the call.

With canopy open, full power, he followed his leader down the deck. He had a plane that was just out of check and hadn’t been run up. Abeam the island he backfired twice and that was enough power loss to deprive him of flying speed off the bow. He knew he didn’t have it as soon as he began to settle. No time to salvo his load, he jigged to the right to get out of the onrushing carrier’s way, and landed wheels up.

The carrier turned hard to port to miss him. As we rushed by, there was George climbing out of the cockpit of his sinking AD, saluting the King and Queen, and not watching for the Angel to come and get him so its downwash surprised him and blew him arise over teakettle into the water. They got a sling around him in no time and moments later he was deposited back on deck, soaking wet but unhurt. The M.C.  announced, “LTJG Ormond, arriving“, just as he was some big shot, but the fun wasn’t over. As CAG was groaning for altitude with his heavy load, the Banshees streaked in against the target sled one by one and nearly every one of them hit it.

CAG was an experienced dive-bomber pilot from the Korean War. He wanted to get to 10,000 ft just like we had done at Duck Target back on Padre Island out of Cabaniss Field, but he was climbing very slowly on such a hot day.

When the jets were done he was only up to 6000 ft. He and the Air Boss argued back and forth for a while. The royal couple was getting restive with nothing happening. CAG compromised on 7500 ft for his start down.

Commander Fidel, the ship’s XO on the one M.C. announced to all of us that now we were going to see the biggest explosion the Navy could make which would blow the sled to smithereens. And we all watched the little dot CAG made in the sky as he opened his dive brakes and started his run.

The sled did not evaporate in a colossal blast. What happened was anticlimactic. CAG had neglected to flip the little toggle switch to arm his bombs in his haste to start the non-standard run. The bombs hit near the sled all right … they just went “phut phut phut“, as they hit the water. No one said a thing. The one M.C. was turned off. The Air Group Commander’s embarrassment was acute, and he didn’t visit the air group pilots in their ready rooms, for several days to come.”

Former Randolph crew member, Gil Hartman, AN, V-1 Division received this first person account

from Doctor Roger G. Smith, a former “Guppy” pilot in VAW-12.

Doctor Smith added … ” Gil … I love you guys from the flight deck crew. Randolph had a very fine and safe flight deck. Ensign Santivasci ran the catapults superbly. I think he was a mustang officer. This was a hilarious story at the time … and sad to say … Captain Ormond died down in Jacksonville a few years ago. (Actually he died in Utah, but he lived in JAX.)

Story used with permission of the USS Randolph Association